How Do I Kill Yucca Plants | Getting Rid of Your Yucca Plant

Yucca is a drought-tolerant perennial plant that is native to the states of North and South America. The plant is morphologically distinguishable due to its sword-shaped leaves and large white-colored flowers. 

Yucca plants have deep roots that form a very strong connection with the soil. This is a survival technique for these succulent plants that can thrive even in a drought and very high temperatures in the deserts.  

Large yucca plant in need of removalPin

It’s hard to kill a yucca plant permanently, but you can try methods like physical removal, suffocation, or herbicide application.

How Can I Kill a Yucca Plant?

Some might find it surprising that the yucca plant is not a noxious weed. It’s a perennial. For that reason, some people plant yuccas for aesthetic landscaping or xeriscaping.

However, some people consider yucca plants a nuisance with their enormous root system and how quickly they can grow. Yucca plant also produces Rhizomes that send out roots from their stems and helps in water absorption. 

The branches and roots of the Yucca plant can expand to a large area. They can even cause damage to nearby plants, walls, and even the foundation of the house. 

So planting Yucca in a pot or large container is advised to avoid root spread. The fibrous roots of Yucca spread horizontally near the surface. They’re shallow and are responsible for water absorption near the soil surface. 

So, if you’re considering removing one or more yucca plants, the experience of how to kill yucca plants is a challenging one.

To Kill a Yucca Plant

The yucca perennial is part of the succulent family. The indigenous North American plant defends itself from environmental threats aggressively, which can be animals or lack of water—making yucca plants notoriously difficult to kill.

All yucca flowers are bell-shaped and bloom during spring and summer, emerging from buds that form on top of long flower stalks. They can grow well indoors and outdoors and prefer a full sun position. 

And once they’ve grown to maturity, the task becomes daunting and exhausting. The extensive and fibrous root system of the yucca lies beneath the surface outside of your view.

It is like looking for a needle in a haystack, even though you know how to identify pieces of a yucca root that are left behind after removing the bulk of the yucca root.

The Yucca plant’s roots are highly invasive, and if cultivated in the garden, they can cause problems for surrounding plants and their roots. 

If you want to know how to kill yucca plants, it starts with the plant roots and the time of year.

There are many ways to get rid of yucca plants. Unfortunately, there are no easy step-by-step instructions. Instead, there’s more of a process to it:

  • Removal
  • Suffocation
  • Herbicides

Getting Rid of Yucca Plants by Physical Removal

When deciding to remove a yucca plant, trim those prickly leaves first. Then cut down the remaining truck to ground level.

Then dig down approximately four to five feet and remove the root ball with a spade. Finally, begin digging with a trowel or hoe, hunting for small pieces of root that broke off while extracting the bulb.

Discard all the dirt you dug up and fill the hole back in with new yucca-free soil.

The likelihood of new shoots appearing should be dug up in the future, just as described above.

How To Get Rid Of Yucca Plants by Suffocation?

Another option for how to kill yucca plants is suffocation. However, this process can take up to a year to kill a yucca.

To help yuccas overwinter in areas that experience frost, cut the stalks down to the ground in late fall. Then add a thick layer of mulch, about six inches, over the plant before the first frost.  

But just as described above, you need to cut back the leaves to the truck, then cut the trunk to ground level. You then cover the entire area around the root with five or six layers of newspaper, a single deconstructed cardboard box, or a 6-mil plastic sheet.

Whatever option you select, secure with a thick layer of compost and leave it in place for one year.

How To Kill Yucca Plants by Herbicides?

Your third option is using a herbicide. As with the other two options, this third option includes safety first by trimming back those pesky prickly leaves to the stock. Then cut the trunk to ground level.

The older the yucca, the harder it is to get rid of it. Given that, here’s how to remove your yucca plant: Before starting, wear protective clothing, as this plant’s leaves and branches are highly sharp. 

Start by cutting the main trunk and drilling holes around the base. Spray herbicide or stump remover through the holes to spread them throughout the entire root system and kill it completely.  

Once prepped, saturate the trunk with the herbicide. If you’re dealing with a well-matured yucca, you can drill one- to two-inch holes into the truck and pour herbicide into the holes.

Remember, shoots may eventually break ground, and you can repeat the process using herbicides.

Related: Read our article on Tree Stump Removal Using Epsom Salt

Killing Yucca Plants is Not a One-Time Deal

As mentioned throughout, yucca plants are notoriously difficult to kill and continue to re-grow long after removing the parent plant—leading to the ongoing quest of how to kill yucca plants.

Patience and persistence are your best defense against the determined growth of the yucca plant.

How To Kill Yucca Sprouts?

Yucca sprouts are not friendly, especially if you remove the yucca plant from your yard altogether. Getting all the root is the biggest challenge in this fight and the most frustrating.

The good news, young yucca plants are much easier to kill despite the resilience of the species. The reason is the more youthful the plant, the soft its exterior, unlike mature yucca plants.

Keep an eye out for pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects, aphids, thrips, whitefly & vine weevils. Typical diseases associated with Yuccas are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis (grey mold) & powdery mildew.

To make the process successful, you must continue to monitor the area for new yucca sprouts. Dousing the new growth with herbicide destroys a new sprout’s tender exterior to the root that lies beneath the surface.

If new growth is left unattended, you may find yourself repeating the dig phase, which is the most physically demanding. So, stay vigilant with weekly or monthly maintenance of the area to avoid any new yucca sprouts becoming overgrown.

Let’s Recap On Killing Yucca Plants

It’s a strange thing to think of a yucca plant as not being resilient and aggressive at the same time. Still, when an indigenous plant species finds its existence threatened, it will respond violently, if necessary, to survive.

That’s why persistence pays off when it comes to eliminating a yucca plant from your yard. No matter how many times you find, yourself digging, suffocating, or using a herbicide to kill yucca plants.

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